She’s Not There by Joy Fielding: Review

She’s Not There by Joy Fielding: ReviewShe's Not There by Joy Fielding
on February 23, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Crime

A lifetime ago, every year Carole Shipley looked forward to her wedding anniversary. But then a celebratory trip to Mexico for the occasion with her husband and friends ended in the unsolved kidnapping of her infant daughter, Samantha. Now, fifteen years after that horrific time, divorced and isolated, Carole is forced to relive the kidnapping by reporters who call every year on the anniversary of Samantha’s disappearance. However, this year when the phone rings, Carole hears the sweet voice of a girl claiming to be her long-lost daughter. Plunged back into the world of heartbreak, suspicion and questions that led the case to run cold so many years ago, Carole doesn’t know what or who to believe. But when she starts to figure it out, she finds the answers dangerously close to home.

Alexis says…

For the past few years I have been a strictly-romance reader. If it didn’t have romance I really REALLY did not want to read it. But what’s funny is that I used to read mystery novels prior to my romance reading phase started.  I have been going through a bit of a drought, I swear I picked up at least seven books and put each one down at or before the ten percent mark. So, I sought out a different genre and as a sort of palette cleanser and to be quite honest, I am so glad I found She’s Not There.

When I read the synopsis of She’s Not There the first thing that came to mind was the Madeline McCann story from more than a decade ago. A family on vacation. A night out with friends. Their daughter goes missing.  Truth be told, I was always so intrigued by this news story so obviously that is the main reason I picked up the book.

The story is told in two parts, past and present spanning fifteen years.  Caroline and Hunter, and their two children, Michelle and Samantha are headed to Rosarito, Mexico to celebrate their ten-year anniversary.  As a surprise, Hunter has also invited friends and family to celebrate with them.  On their last night there, their actual anniversary, Samantha goes missing without a trace.

Fifteen years later to the exact date, Carole receives a phone call from someone claiming they may be Samantha.  Is it really her? Please, like I’m really going to spoil it.

As the story unfolds in the present, you read about the fallout on how this tragedy not only affected Carole and Hunter, but also their other daughter Michelle.

The story at times was a bit hard for me to read.  How can one overcome such an incredible loss while still thinking about the “what ifs” and not getting any closure?  The thought that their child might still be out there. How could no one have seen anything? Then the aftermath on how they were thrust into the limelight and torn to shreds and taken advantage of.  My heart actually broke for Michelle more than anyone else. I think her pain and emotional issues were portrayed the way that many children may feel. Guilt played a huge part in this story understandably as well.  Guilt can do some really funny thing to you.

The storytelling on this one is absolutely spot-on. It kept me completely engrossed, especially during the twists and turns that even threw me for a loop.

If you looking for a book with suspense that will literally keep you engrossed and theorizing the entire time…grab this one.

P.S. I did not see that ending coming.


About Joy Fielding

Joy Fielding (née Tepperman; born March 18, 1945) is a Canadian novelist and actress. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Born in Toronto, Ontario, she graduated from the University of Toronto in 1966, with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. As Joy Tepperman, she had a brief acting career, appearing in the film Winter Kept Us Warm (1965) and in an episode of Gunsmoke. She later changed her last name to Fielding (after Henry Fielding) and began writing novels.
Fielding is also the screenwriter of the television film Golden Will: The Silken Laumann Story.

At the age of 8, Joy Tepperman wrote her first story and sent it into a local magazine, and at age 12 sent in her first TV script, however both were rejected. She had a brief acting career, eventually giving it up to write full-time in 1972. She has published to date 22 novels, two of which were converted into film. Fielding’s process of having an idea to the point the novel is finished generally takes a year, the writing itself taking four to eight months. Joy Fielding sets most of her novels in American cities such as Boston and Chicago. She has said that she prefers to set her novels in “big American cities, [as the] landscape seems best for [her] themes of urban alienation and loss of identity. Fielding is a Canadian citizen. Her husband’s name is Warren, and they have two daughters, Annie and Shannon. They have property in Toronto, Ontario, as well as Palm Beach, Florida.

Fielding had an interview with the Vancouver Sun in 2007, just after her publication of Heartstopper. She enjoys catching readers off guard with the endings of her stories, but insists that “[it] isn’t what her fiction is about”, but rather more about the development of her characters. Discussing her novels with the Toronto Star in 2008, she said “I might not write fiction in the literary sense. But I write very well. My characters are good. My dialog is good. And my stories are really involving. I’m writing exactly the kind of books I like to write. And they’re the kind of books I like to read. They’re popular commercial fiction. That’s what they are.”

Fielding has been noted as a novelist who is more popular in the United States and foreign countries, rather than in her native Canada. For example, the novel Kiss Mommy Goodbye was more popular in the States, and See Jane Run in Germany. In addition, she had an American agent and publisher, although she has now switched to a Canadian publisher.